This Real-Life Superhero is Saving Shelter Pets

The caped crusader uses the costume so that his work will remain anonymous.

Jul 21, 2019

(Courtesy Batman4Paws)

Not all heroes wear capes, but this one, who has saved dozens of animals from euthanasia in animal shelters, does. 27-year-old animal rescuer Chris Van Dorn has given these animals a second chance at life while dressed as the Dark Knight.

Van Dorn has always been a big fan of Batman and grew up watching the animated TV series. He also became a fan of animal rescue when his family adopted an Australian shepherd named Mr. Boots. Van Dorn decided to combine these interests and volunteer at animal rescue organizations around Orlando Florida in full Batman costume.

While dressing like Batman is not necessary to rescue animals - anyone can be a superhero themselves by adopting shelter animals - it does keep the focus on the mission of saving animals and not the man behind the mask and cape.

“The costume just makes everybody happy and smile," Van Dorn told The Dodo. "It's special to see Batman walking around, and when they find out that he's doing a good deed in the world they get even more excited.”

Van Dorn always wanted to remain anonymous. "When I was first starting out, I was keeping everything really anonymous," Van Dorn said. "I would sign everything 'Bruce Wayne' and not put my real name out there ... My catchphrase is, 'It's not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me,' and I still hold that true today."

Van Dorn's cover was blown after he opened a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his nonprofit Batman4Paws and was featured as an honoree GoFundMe hero in May 2019. The article helped raise over $34,000 of his $35,000 goal on his crowdfunding page to rescue and transport the dogs and cats to their forever homes.

"Actions speak louder than words and I'm just doing my best to empty the cages," Van Dorn said.

Van Dorn will spend long hours in his batmobile – a Honda Accord – to bring four rescued animals at a time to their new homes. He hopes to be able to buy a van so he can transport even more animals on his rescue missions. He also hopes to use his pilot's license as a means to transport animals further away quickly.

Now Batman has his sidekick Robin – AKA Boots – who was recently licensed as a therapy dog along with him. The dynamic duo has made many guest appearances at hospitals around South Florida and at animal shelter fundraisers. The costumes bring in more visitors and more opportunities to hand out brochures and stickers about animal rescue.

He wants to share his mission with as many people as possible saying " I challenge anyone to go to their local shelter because it's a depressing place, but if you can help out in any way — whether that's to foster a dog or adopt a dog or just volunteer your time, then you should go out and do it."

The benefits of living with a dog or cat are numerous and shelter animals make amazing pets. Some are even being trained as service dogs. If you already have fur babies, volunteering at a shelter or fostering dogs or cats is a good way to help pets find their forever homes.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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